Q&A with Screen Actors Guild head Alan Rosenberg

Wed May 7, 2008 7:20pm EDT
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Screen Actors Guild President Alan Rosenberg was elected as head of the nation's largest performers' union in 2005 on a pledge to take a tougher stance in labor talks than his immediate predecessor.

He played a crucial role in rallying actors to support writers who went on strike for 14 weeks until February, bringing much of television production to a standstill and derailing numerous films.

Now he is presiding over SAG's first film and prime-time television contract talks since taking over the powerful labor group that represents about 120,000 actors.

Rosenberg, who plays lawyers on television shows like "L.A. Law" and is married to "CSI" star Marg Helgenberger, spoke to Reuters on Tuesday night just after the studios broke off those negotiations and accused the union of unreasonable demands, stoking fears of further labor unrest.

Q: How would you characterize what happened at the bargaining table?

A: "It was ... our intention to carry these negotiations through to their conclusion, and I felt we were making progress, and I believe this interruption will make it more difficult to reach an agreement, although I'm still optimistic."

Q: You say there are one or two issues in the recent contract deals with writers and directors that are particular sticking points for your members. What are those?

A: "The unfettered use of clips from motion pictures and television shows is a real problem ... . They (studios) want to be able to take clips from raw product and use it whenever they want on the Internet without getting our consent and without compensating us very much. ... Writers and directors don't have those concerns.   Continued...

<p>President of the Screen Actors Guild Alan Rosenberg speaks at the 14th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles January 27, 2008. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok</p>